What Are My Rights as An Injured Passenger in a Car Accident?
The Alabama Guest Statute
When you are a passenger in a car accident in Alabama, a lot depends on who is at fault for the injuries you suffered. If another driver is liable, you have options—we will explain that later. However, if the driver of the vehicle you were in caused the accident, you may be facing an uphill battle. Alabama has a Guest Statute on the books, and it’s the only state to still have this type of law in place.
If you are hurt in an accident where the driver of the vehicle you are in is at fault, you cannot file a claim against their insurance if you were their guest. This law is designed to protect drivers from insurance claims stemming from efforts to help people by driving them off somewhere or helping them with errands.
Exceptions to This Statute
There are some exceptions to this. You can seek compensation if your injuries were caused by the driver’s willful or wanton misconduct. Proving wanton disconnect is challenging, however, which is one reason you need the help of a personal injury attorney if you are seeking compensation for injuries.
Willful, wanton misconduct isn’t simply speeding or driving too fast for weather conditions. The standard for this is substantially higher. You may be able to seek compensation under these conditions if, for example, the driver is under the influence and does not tell you that before you accept the ride. You might also be able to seek compensation if they intentionally harm you.
If you go this route, you’ll likely need to talk to an attorney to fight for the compensation you are owed, as it’s unlikely that the driver will come out and tell the insurance company that they were driving recklessly or intentionally putting you in danger.
When Someone Else is Negligent
If the driver of the other vehicle involved in the crash is liable, you can still seek compensation from the liable driver. In these situations, the process is largely the same as if you were an injured driver. You would seek out a personal injury attorney, provide the evidence you gathered as an accident victim, get the medical treatment you need, and find out if you are entitled to compensation. This is much easier with the help of an attorney. Be prepared to prove the other party’s liability with witness testimony, photos of the crash scene, video footage of the crash scene, and medical records. In this situation, the claim would proceed as a standard personal injury claim.
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